Its happened, you're sitting in the doctors office and you get the diagnosis, that you have been hoping to get. [We all want to know what is wrong and why we feel the way we do, and finally we get an answer]. Or you're sitting at your kitchen table, and you have made the decision to end your marriage. [Its been over a long time, and you are finally able to stand in that decision.]. The question that is running through your mind is "What do I do now?" Many will tell you it is normal to feel overwhelmed. It's normal not to know what to do. It's normal to want to hide or go into a fight or flight mentality. The truth is, it does NOT have to be this way. You do not have to feel overwhelmed or ask the question "what do I do now?"
In 2005 of December I was married to my first husband Tim and had a 9.5month old baby girl. 4.5 months prior two story apartment had completely flooded and we needed to be evacuated while it was rebuilt from the studs up. One month and a day after moving back in I was at work at Renaissance Day spa. I worked evenings that week and was doing a pedicure. It was a group of ladies that came in and we were having a fun time visiting with them. My boss Karine entered into the pedicure area and came walking right up to me and said Jodi, you need to come with me. I smiled a weird smile, looked at my client and told her I would be right back. Karine took me into the hallway and said "Tim is on the phone and it is an emergency. I picked up the phone, annoyed that he would phone. [I was thinking he was having trouble with some baby food or that our daughter Summer was just being overly fussy.]. "Jodi, get home now! The apartment is burning." I giggled and said are you "serious?" He was very adamant and insisted I come now. I walked back into the pedicure area, smiled and said "I am so sorry, I have to go. Apparently my place is on fire". I was still thinking in my mind that this was only a kitchen fire and he was over reacting. We lived 7 minutes away from my work and as I rounded the corner going up the hill I could begin to see the orange glow. My heart started racing a bit. Maybe this was not just a kitchen fire, as I drew nearer I could start hearing the roaring sound, and the flames jumping into the air. I had to park 2 blocks away as everything else was blocked off. My mind started racing. "Where was Summer and Tim, did he grab my dog Angel." I ran as quickly as I could on the cold icy sidewalks. It was minus 20 degrees Celsius that evening. They tried to ban me from entering the the apartment parking lot. I yelled, that's my home and my husband and daughter are somewhere. I was escorted across the parking lot, passed the 20 something fire men and toward the strip mall that was across the street. I phoned Tim multiple times and he did not answer. Scanning the crowds of the other residences, knowing that it would be bitterly cold for Summer and my four pound dog I ran into the different businesses. Each say no, they hadn't seen anyone with their descriptions. Then, out of the last little mom and pop store emerged Tim, Summer and my dog. I breathed a big sigh of relief, hugged them tightly and asked, "What happened?" Tim replied "I heard a bang and thought nothing of it, thinking it was just the neighbours down the hall being loud. Then as I was getting Summer ready to go to a meeting, people started banging on the door. Finally I decided to answer and people were rushing by and a fire man was standing there yelling "get out" this is huge. I had walked them to my car where it was warm, and we drove around.... We sat there, looking and hoping it would not reach our end unit. We called some of our neighbours let them know what was going on if they were unaware.... We were in shock, the fire was savage, you could feel the heat and see the water freezing on the ground as the firefighters tried to gain control over it. We went to my moms house, we sat there for awhile... I looked at my mom and said, can Summer stay here and can I go back... I can't sit here. With tears in her eyes she took Summer from me and told us to go. Getting there we saw a quarter of the building had been destroyed and they were working on saving the last 4 units that were on the end... My unit. Tim and I walked along the street, hugging neighbours, watching in awe and horrified silence, crying, hoping that the cars parked underneath the balconies of some would not catch fire and explode. I pleaded with God, not my photos, not my great grandmothers hand made baby blankets... Not Summer's African themed nursery... Salvation Army was there handing out hot chocolate, tea and coffee. Blankets if needed. Grocery vouchers for the next day and told us to come to them in the morning and they would have more for us but we needed to register our names first.
Sleep was hard to find that night, and the next morning we dressed in the same clothes we wore the night before and went to go see what was left. It was the early morning hours before the firefighters had gained control. Stations from neighbouring towns and cities had come to help. When we arrived they were still working. Huge icicles hung from parts of the building that were no longer burning.... The end unit... my unit... You could see my grandmothers mint green with white trim crocheted baby blanket hanging from the side of the building. You could see that Summers nursery was gone, and what was left was half of our bedroom, our storage closet, our little closet of a pantry from what was left of the kitchen and living room. I begged the firemen for days to just climb up the ladder and retrieve the blanket but it was too unsafe. I begged for photo albums to be salvaged as they would have been smoked but they were still there... The fire had not reached them, china and crystal inherited from great grandparents were well preserved in a china cabinet, but were unable to be retrieved because it was filled with frozen water like a fish tank. They could not be salvaged. When the demo crew came we cried tears of grief knowing that these things were all intact but were unretrievable. [The days before iCloud and digital photos... Everything just gone... Smashed and torn apart all to be hauled away to a dump. How quickly one can go from laughing and joking with clients to pure devastation and not knowing what to do next.
I had hope though. The flood insurance claim taught me what we were entitled to and helped me advocate for my family correctly and efficiently. In that regard the flood was a good lesson, a preparation for what was to come. [It sucks how the universe/god/that which is greater does that for you]. The question of "What do I do now" came into my mind every day. I was on auto pilot, go to work, pay bills, live at moms, help with the house, take care of Summer, support Tim, 1x a month go to Salvation Army receive grocery cards to help off set costs, thrift stores to replace clothes, donation storage set up for fire victims to look through and take things they need, catalog items, clothes, jewellery, kitchen etc to give to the insurance company. Then repeat. Now I know it didn't have to be like that.
The truth is, that had I had someone who had been through it already and had helped guide me through it I would have had a much easier time. This is true for any emergency/tragic event like a death or divorce. There were many mistakes made. I went into panic mode and went into every place that I had worked previously and asked them to fundraise for us. [Not my proudest moment]. I placed sentimental value on the heirlooms and fixated on how upset my mom was over it and took it on as my own. You see what I should have done is sit down with my calendar and Look at all my family priorities, all my work priorities and all my self care priorities. Those should have been my non negotiable's. Then I should have looked at all the optional things in my life. Were they important for that time for me? Would they add stress or take it away? You see when we know what are non negotiable's are and what our negotiable's are we can say yes more easily and no more easily. When we say yes to something we are saying no to something. When we say no to something, we are say yes to something we value. If I would have known this fifteen years ago. I would have been able to cope so much better. I would have loved someone to come along side me and clear out all the mind clutter and distractions that didn't need to be there.
Often at times we do not have the birds eye view of what the end results will be. This is especially true when in crisis. When we make the empowered decision to work with someone who has been through it whether it be an environmental crisis because of a flood, fire, tornado, earthquake or more intimate like a death, a divorce, a diagnosis. Even a wedding or a birth, we can save so much hardship, so much anxiety. People that have been through diagnosis's have a birds eye view of what is important and what is not. They know you'r next steps. The same is with any event in your life. Stress is stress. Doesn't matter whether it is good stress or negative stress. The mind and the body process it all the same. Why wouldn't you want to mitigate stress levels so you do not get overwhelmed and need to escape life? We hear it all the time. Life is hard... But what if it didn't have to be so hard? What if there was an easier way? What if there was someone who could see the mountains and pot hole that were coming before you could? That considered what your life was and included everything? This is what coaches do. This is what I do. If you have any questions, or need just even a little guidance please do not hesitate to be brave and reach out.
People say that life doesn't happen to you, everything is happening for you. The truth is, life does happen to you. You don't always manifest what happens in your life. [I used to say to my mom, "when God gets bored I think he looks down and wonders just what kind of mischief he can play on the Isaacs today."]. When life happens to you, do you want to be asking "what do I do now?" or do you want to be picking up the phone to a trusted trained source that you know will be 100% focused on you, your family and do what it takes to help you move through this massive change? I know what I would have done had I known that option. What would you do?
Jodi Harty CLC, CHC, RMT, Reiki Master CST2, SER1
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